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Tyro, Kansas

I'm carrying on my mother's research into our family history. I've self-published some family memoirs & learned a lot about different eras.

My grandmother (Ruth) in the center. Her friend, Bertha McGhee on the right. Ruth married Bertha's brother.

My grandmother (Ruth) in the center. Her friend, Bertha McGhee on the right. Ruth married Bertha's brother.

Small Kansas Town and My Family Links to It

Few people know of Tyro, Kansas. It's small and well past its heyday. The only reason I know of this now sleepy town is my grandparents grew up there, fell in love and married. That was back before World War I.

My mother recently showed me some vintage photos of her mother in Tyro. It made me curious about what the town was like. Here's what we've found out so far.

Luckily, I've met online someone who grew up in Tyro and he has a wealth of vintage photos. Jack Irwin said I could feature his historic pictures of Tyro here.

(photo of the Vining sisters in Tyro, Kansas. Ruth is my grandmother.)

Why I Write about Kansas

 I grew up in Kansas and most of my family is still there. The pages I've written about Kansas included travel articles about small towns like Tyro, Hamilton, Whitewater and Chelsea. Each of those towns link to my family in some way.

I grew up in Kansas and most of my family is still there. The pages I've written about Kansas included travel articles about small towns like Tyro, Hamilton, Whitewater and Chelsea. Each of those towns link to my family in some way.

There was a glass factory in Tyro

My grandfather worked there. The factory made clear glass chimneys for oil lamps. The lack of availability of sand needed in the process of glass making led to the closing of this factory. Here's a video about glass blowing.

tyro kansas downtown postcards 1910

tyro kansas downtown postcards 1910

1909 Brochure - Tyro, The Beautiful

Tyro, Montgomery County Kansas

"On a beautiful sloping elevation between the two rivers, the Caney and Spring rivers there stands the pretty little city of Tyro, Kansas. While these two rivers are any miles apart, yet they are much lower than Tyro, thereby making Tyro a clean, healthy high city, and as one drives through the streets and sees the lovely well-kept lawns, the big waving shade trees and the several miles of brick and cement sidewalks, and the shady little park, they can not but marvel at the rapid growth of the little City of Tyro in a very short space of time.

The water in Tyro is as clear as a crystal and as pure and soft as nature ever gave to mankind. Water can be found in abundance at the short depth of fifteen to thirty feet. In fact Tyro is a place where all the requirements have been bestowed with lavish hand."

Map of Montgomery County, Kansas, Showing Tyro

Description from a Vintage Advertising Booklet

"Tyro, Kansas, is an incorporated town of seven hundred inhabitants, with nearly two miles of brick and cement sidewalk, seven two-story brick buildings, two hardware stores, two furniture stores, two dry goods stores, four grocery stores, one meat market, one drug store, two wagon shops, two blacksmith shops, three barber shops, two pool halls, one grain elevator, one feed mill, one two-story school building, two churches, one Masonic hall, one Odd Fellows Hall, two brick plants, one glass plant, one bank, one printing office, two hotels, two livery stables, one millinery store, one lumber yard, one harness shop, one dentist. A complete telephone system -- Bell Phone and Home Phone."

1910 Photo of the Tyro Brick Plant

tyroks

Learn More About the Brick Factory And Kansas Bricks

The Official International Brick Collectors Association - Kansas Bricks shows pictures of bricks made in Kansas. The designs and names on the bricks are unique for each brick plant.

A Tale of Two Bricks is an article by my mother, Gail Lee Martin. She researched the brick factory and gives the details in this article.

Read about Tyro in My Flint Hills Childhood

Read about Tyro in My Flint Hills Childhood

Read about Tyro in My Flint Hills Childhood

Tyro Included in a Book

  • My Flint Hills Childhood by Gail Lee Martin
    The daughter of Clarence McGhee and Ruth Vining (early residents of Tyro) has written a book about her childhood in 1930s Kansas. Included in the book is family history that includes Tyro. Read an excerpt from the book at this website. (just click on

Tyro Methodist Church

Tyro Methodist Church

Tyro Methodist Church

tyroks

Boom Days in Tyro - Newspaper Article from 1978

tyro ks newspaper article

tyro ks newspaper article

Store in Early Tyro

tyro kansas vintage photo

tyro kansas vintage photo

Jack Irwin describes this photo: My grandparents and my mother are in right side of photo. The dimensions of building were reported as 30' x 24'. The erection of the building started in Nov. 1894 at Main and Market and opened in Jan. 1895. The building was replaced in 1907 by a new two-story brick building with dimensions of 50' x 90'. This building still exists.

Tyro Main Street

His description of the scene: Downtown Main Street looking east. The IOOF bldg is n left forefront and the hotel is east of it. The Deuel store is in right forefront.

His description of the scene: Downtown Main Street looking east. The IOOF bldg is n left forefront and the hotel is east of it. The Deuel store is in right forefront.

Tyro Kansas Timeline - Events over the Years in Tyro

  • 1906 - Tyro was incorporated and Joseph Lenhart gave it the name Tyro. (The Caney Chronicle, March 1, 1978)
  • 1907 - The Tyro Vitrified Brick Company opened. O.W. Buck was the president. It employed 32 - 36 men and made 1,000,000 to 1,400,000 bricks a month. A second brick factory was opened and it made a similar amount.
  • 1908 - Odd Fellow Building dedicated.
  • March 1908 - Three men robbed the bank in Tyro of $2500 and then escaped into the woods. Although a number of possees tried to capture them and even surrounded them at one point, they got away. The Moberly Weekly Monitor in Oklahoma reported on March 20th that they were still on the loose. (information from newspaperarchive.com)

    13 March 1908 - Henry Starr and his gang from Oklahoma robbed the Tyro Bank.

    16 March 1908 article in the San Francisco Call (Vol. 103, #107) - The Ochelata posse came upon the robbers at Sandy Creek which is 8 miles southwest of Ochelata. Caught by surprise, the 3 men in the posse were ordered to "halt and throw up their hands." The robbers broke their rifles and took their pistols and one of the horses, then let them go.

    The outlaws moved further into the Osage hills and a posse of 100 men prepared to leave Bigheart in hopes of surrounding them.

    28 March 1908 - Lee Elrick and Jim Lee were arrested at McLoud in Johnson County, Oklahoma as suspects in another robbery plus the Tyro one. (info from ancestry.com message board)

    13 May 1908 - Starr was arrested in Colorado and held for transfer to Kansas. (info from Gunslinger Gulch forum)

  • November 1, 1908 - J.C. Kelley began building the glass plant to make lamp chimneys. It was completed Feb 10, 1909. On February 15 it had 40 employees and expected to increase to 80 men making a total of 800 chimneys a day.

Tyro Photo Gallery - Then and Now

Gloyd Lumber Company

Gloyd Lumber Company

These are checks from the Tyro State Bank (Albert Vining and Ida Vining are my grandmother's siblings).

These are checks from the Tyro State Bank (Albert Vining and Ida Vining are my grandmother's siblings).

Tyro downtown around 1910 (photo courtesy of Jack Irwin).

Tyro downtown around 1910 (photo courtesy of Jack Irwin).

Here's the same street scene (without the horse and carriage). I took this photo in October 2012.

Here's the same street scene (without the horse and carriage). I took this photo in October 2012.

Faded glory, the tiled entrance to the R.A. Park store. (October 2012)

Faded glory, the tiled entrance to the R.A. Park store. (October 2012)

Jack Irwin says "There were 2 schools, this is the one that held upper grades and high school. Tyro High School closed in the spring of 1943."

Jack Irwin says "There were 2 schools, this is the one that held upper grades and high school. Tyro High School closed in the spring of 1943."

Tyro Hotel ruins - around 1915.

Tyro Hotel ruins - around 1915.

Former Residents of Tyro, Kansas - To see the photos larger, click on it.

Bertha McGhee, daughter of Sam McGhee

Bertha McGhee, daughter of Sam McGhee

Abraham Bates Tower, served in the Civil War.

Abraham Bates Tower, served in the Civil War.

Workers at the brick factory in Tyro

Workers at the brick factory in Tyro

Ruth Vining, my grandmother.

Ruth Vining, my grandmother.

Bertha McGhee and Ruth Vining

Bertha McGhee and Ruth Vining

Tyro church group (photo from Lenhart). My great uncle, Albert Vining is kneeling in the center of row 2.

Tyro church group (photo from Lenhart). My great uncle, Albert Vining is kneeling in the center of row 2.

tyroks

Bertha and Lealon McGhee with School Children - Tyro, Kansas

Don't know if they are sitting on the steps to the school or not. The sign is for Dr. Chadw (possibly Chadwick). I searched online but could find nothing about a Dr. Chadwick in Tyro, Kansas.

Vintage Tyro Photo - Playing Croquet

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from the family collection of Gail Lee Martin.

It is labeled "family friends playing croquet."

I'd love to know who these are. If you have old family photos of Tyro, please compare them to these people.

tHattie Musselman in Tyro, Kansas

tHattie Musselman in Tyro, Kansas

Photo of Hattie Musselman in Tyro, Kansas

Are you related to Hattie Musselman? Let me know if you are.

She must have been a friend of either the Vinings, McGhees or Tower families as this photo was in the family collection.

Other Kansas Topics That I Write About

Other articles focus on famous people from Kansas including Amelia Earhart and Carrie Nation. I also wrote about not-so-famous people from Kansas like the writers I know: Monte Manka, and my sister Cynthia Ross and aunt, Carol Garriott.

Some pages showcase family history like the one about Prairie Belle School, an old one-room school. In all, I've written about 70 pages on Hubpages and on my blogs with these Kansas topics.

Kansas logo created by Gigglish

Read More about Kansas by Virginia Allain

  • Chelsea School Memories
    An 80 year old shares his memories of 1930s and 1940s school days in Chelsea, Kansas. The town of Chelsea is long gone from the map, but his memories keep that time alive for us.
  • Carrie Nation: Kansas Crusader
    Carrie Nation earned fame by taking a hatchet to some saloons. She advocated temperance and made a difference in an era when women had very restricted roles. Learn more about this colorful character.
  • Teterville, Kansas
    Teterville, KS is no more, but it lives on in the memories of former residents. Enjoy those stories here, shared by my mother and others. Lots of great vintage photos too of this boom town, now gone.

© 2009 Virginia Allain

Share What You Know About Tyro, Kansas

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on March 27, 2020:

I belong to a Tyro group on Facebook, so I'll mention her name there. I bet some will remember her.

Melody Lassalle from California on April 18, 2015:

What an interesting read, Virginia! It's neat to see the tie in with your family history and where they lived. I suspect the history of Tyro is similar to many small towns across America.

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on March 21, 2014:

Although I too have family members who hailed from Kansas, this is the first I've heard of Tyro. It's always fascinating to see how folks settled into these communities and what they built, what lasted, and what did not. Thank you for an illuminating story of the time.

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on May 10, 2013:

@anonymous: Thanks, Jack, you saved me some research time. Much appreciated!

anonymous on May 09, 2013:

@Virginia Allain: "Henry Starr Last of the the Real Badmen" by Glenn Shirley, McKay, 1965. There is an index and Tyro is mentioned. Starr was an interesting person. He wrote a memoir "Thrilling Events" published in pamphlet form, produced a motion picture "A Debtor to the Law" and robbed 2 banks at the same time. There is a novel based on Starr called "The Saga of Henry Starr" by Robert J. Conley, Doubleday, 1989.

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on May 09, 2013:

@anonymous: This is marvelous family history and Tyro history. I'll have to find that book you mentioned and read up on the bank robbery.

anonymous on May 09, 2013:

@heytoto: My mother saw that the bank was being robbed and ran down the street yelling that the bank was being robbed. She was not yet 10 years old. Her father was one of the townspeople who chased Starr.

Karen Kolavalli from Lexington, Kentucky on May 08, 2013:

I'd only recently stumbled onto the Henry Starr gang and the Tyro bank robbery, Jack. I subscribe to NewspaperArchives and they have some great old articles about Henry Starr.

anonymous on May 08, 2013:

The Tyro bank was robbed by the Henry Starr gang and they did escape. They shot the horses from under some of the townspeople who chased them. There is a book about Starr.

Leah J. Hileman from East Berlin, PA, USA on February 14, 2013:

I've only traveled between Wichita and McPherson. This looks like a precious place.

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on February 13, 2013:

@anonymous: Jack - I could feature some of your Tyro photos here if your want more people to see them. Virginia

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on January 30, 2013:

@redravengrad: That's definitely my great-uncle, Albert Vining, in the 2nd row, center. I'm thinking to make a page on Squidoo about his WWI experience. We have his diary, his army helmet and some other memorabilia.

redravengrad on January 30, 2013:

@Virginia Allain: Just posted the 2 Vining pics.

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on January 30, 2013:

@redravengrad: Would love to see any Vining, McGhee or Tower photos you have of Tyro. Those are all relatives of mine.

 

Probably good to get the other photos online for people to see. My focus is mostly Tyro for now.

redravengrad on January 30, 2013:

@Virginia Allain: Happy that you are enjoying them. Pictures of Donald(?) and his father Albert Vining (one each) are among my Tyro pics. Want me to identify them for you? Also have more Tyro scans that I can post. Tyro school class pictures from the school yearbook for 1939-1940 are among them if of interest. Any interest in old street scenes from Caney or Coffeyville?

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on January 30, 2013:

@redravengrad: I'm sure enjoying the photos you are sharing there. That makes it easy for me to go see them.

redravengrad on January 30, 2013:

Started a Facebook page with many more Tyro Kansas photos. Search for Jack Irwin and I am the one with the Tyro Kansas identifying photo.

Karen Kolavalli from Lexington, Kentucky on January 29, 2013:

@redravengrad: I was able to pull them up through Google+--wonderful photos from the era my family lived there! (BTW, I'm vallain's sister.)

redravengrad on January 29, 2013:

Apparently my Tyro photos are on my Google+ page "Jack Irwin" with the caption Tyro Kansas historical photos. I placed a comment by each photo for identification. Page is open to the public.

Karen Kolavalli from Lexington, Kentucky on January 28, 2013:

Just so you know, the Kansas town near Tyro is "Coffeyville." ;-) There are "Coffeevilles" in several other states--looks like Kansas may be the only one with a "Coffeyville."

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on January 28, 2013:

@heytoto: Someone wrote her name on the back of the photo, but noted that she wasn't a relative.

Karen Kolavalli from Lexington, Kentucky on January 28, 2013:

Wondering where you got the info to identify Hattie Musselman in the vintage photo? I have a copy of that photo, too, but never knew who either of the girls were.

Karen Kolavalli from Lexington, Kentucky on January 28, 2013:

@redravengrad: Hmmm, I'm not having any luck finding them through the Google search. Help!

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on January 28, 2013:

@redravengrad: I'll hunt for them. Was it on a site like Photobucket or Flickr?

redravengrad on January 28, 2013:

I placed 14 Tyro photos on the internet. Go to Google and search for "historical tyro. " It may be a bit tricky. If several pics come up, mine will be the 4 b&w. Click on any of those and you should find my posts. There may be a Tyro sunday class photo that shows up first, if so click on it. Photos are available to the public. Please let me know if you find the pics.

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on January 28, 2013:

@redravengrad: That's great to know, Jack. Good to have it from a primary source like you.

redravengrad on January 28, 2013:

@heytoto: Mt great grandfather picked "Tyro" for the name because it meant beginner. Some people wanted him to name the town "Lenhart" but he did not want to do that.

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on January 28, 2013:

@Virginia Allain: Further note from HeyToto: Another book (I have a copy) about a Kansas "ghost town": Thurman, Kansas, 4 miles southeast of Matfield Green. It's written by an anthropology professor at Emporia State University. I can see you writing a similar book about Tyro--you could have an appendix with all those unidentified photos (and found a TON more last night when we were going through photos!)

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on January 27, 2013:

@heytoto: Looking around online, but not seeing that info yet. I'll try searching Montgomery County history online to see if it shows up there.

Karen Kolavalli from Lexington, Kentucky on January 27, 2013:

Ginger, any info on how Tyro came to be named? I see that the definition of "tyro" is a beginner, but wondered if there was more to it than that.

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on January 24, 2013:

@anonymous: thanks, Jack, for clarifying that. Future historians will appreciate your input here.

anonymous on January 24, 2013:

@Virginia Allain: Made an error. My great grandfather who founded Tyro was Joseph LENHART. The Pence family was connected to my other maternal great granfather who married Caroline Pence.

Virginia Allain (author) from Central Florida on January 22, 2013:

@redravengrad: That's great information. I'd love to see any old photos you might have of Tyro. See you on Facebook for that.

redravengrad on January 22, 2013:

My parents and maternal grandparents and great grandfather were from Tyro. My great grandfather Joseph Pence founded and named the town. I lived the first 22 years of my life in Tyro.

SayGuddaycom on February 26, 2012:

Love it. Coming from Australia I really enjoy reading about small town America

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on December 13, 2011:

I enjoyed reading about your family and the town of Tyro, Kansas. I love small towns so really enjoyed this. Your family photos are wonderful.

Frischy from Kentucky, USA on December 12, 2011:

Interesting lens! I have never been to Kansas, but love learning about this time period.

Laurel Johnson from Washington KS on January 30, 2010:

Oh I just love reading about small towns and their history.

Thank you for revisiting my small town lens.

Lensrolled to my location lenses, with a 5 and fave for good measure.

anonymous on November 04, 2009:

Great way to organize information on a topic that catches your interest! I'm intrigued!

Kiwisoutback from Massachusetts on November 04, 2009:

You're right, I haven't heard of this tow, but I haven't been to small town Kansas either! Nice work!